Obama's Doctor, not a clean BILL of health
Obama's Doctor Knocks ObamaCare
David Whelan, 06.18.09, 05:08 PM EDT
Dr. David Scheiner took care of Obama for 22 years. But they don't see eye-to-eye on how to fix the health care system.
David Scheiner, an internist based in the Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park, has a diverse practice of lower-income adults from the nearby housing projects mixed with famous patients like U.S. Sen. Carol Mosely Braun, the late writer Studs Terkel and, most notably, President Barack Obama.
Scheiner, 71, was Obama's doctor from 1987 until he entered the White House; he vouched for the then-candidate's "excellent health" in a letter last year. He's still an enthusiastic Obama supporter, but he worries about whether the health care legislation currently making its way through Congress will actually do any good, particularly for doctors like himself who practice general medicine. "I'm not sure he really understands what we face in primary care," Scheiner says.
Scheiner takes a few other shots too. Looking at Obama's team of health advisors, Scheiner doesn't see anyone who's actually in the trenches. "I have a suspicion they pick people from the top echelon of medicine, people who write about it but haven't been struggling in it," he says.
Scheiner is critical of Obama's pick for Health and Human Services secretary--Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who used to work as the chief lobbyist for her state's trial lawyers association.
"He doesn't see all the pain, it's so tragic out here," he says. "Obama's wonderful, but on this one I'm not sure if he's getting the right input."
What should the president be focused on? Scheiner thinks that a good health reform would be "Medicare for all," a single-payer system where the government would cover everyone and pay for it by cutting out waste in the system. "A neurosurgeon gets paid $20,000 for cutting into the neck of my patient. Have him get paid $1 million a year instead of $2 million or $3 million. He won't starve," Scheiner says.